Fernvale safeTALK Workshop –

In May we were lucky enough to be in Fernvale for their community safeTALK workshop. Facilitated by Country Care Connections manager, Debbie Smith, the LivingWorks program is a suicide alertness program that educates anyone over the age of 15 on how to become a suicide-alert helper. It coaches attendees on being alert to the possibility of suicide and the subtle invitations for help.

“Most who are thinking of suicide don’t truly want to die, but they don’t know how to ask for support directly,” Facilitator Deb often stated throughout the workshop.

It’s important that people have friends and family around them equipped to tackle the subject of suicide head on. The more we know, the better. In attendance were members of the community, RRMH staff and those who had been directly affected by suicide. We were moved to see some people open up about their experiences and show such vulnerability amongst people they did not know.

Encouragement from all in the room allowed the conversation to dive into the need for more mental health awareness and suicide alertness in these small communities. Situated some distance from metropolitan areas and with little to no professional services, residents of small towns rely on the people around them for support. The more remote, the higher the risk of suicide, and unfortunately the lower the access to professional help.

“Being able to come into rural small communities and provide people with a safe place to discuss suicide is a privilege. We see the need for more conversations and education to reduce the stigma around suicide. We would like to thank the Sommerset Regional Council for the opportunity to do this in Fernvale.”

Rural and Remote Mental Health provide three core community mental health literacy streams and our presenters are also trained in the LivingWork’s safeTALK and ASIST programs.

“This was the first safeTALK workshop I had attended,” said Millie Bryant, Marketing and Communications Specialist for Rural and Remote Mental Health.

“Experiencing this completely opened my eyes, I didn’t realise that asking the question straight out as to whether someone was considering suicide was the right approach. But now it makes sense, why dance around such an important subject? It could save someone’s life by just being upfront and straight to the point. Other helpful tips were the specific signs to look for including very subtle clues which can be a cry out for help. It was heartbreaking to hear from some participants who had recently experienced a loss from suicide bravely share their experience ”.

Below is some feedback from people who attended the workshop, they have chosen to stay anonymous and of course, RRMH respects this.

  • “A safe place and eye-opening….10/10”
  • “A good covering of the foundation and strategies to be used and references in assisting to prevent suicide”
  • “It connected with the audience, encouraged discussion and support participation”
  • “Extremely valuable, would love to take this training further”
  • “I run a community play group and have needed this training to feel confident to have the conversation. I feel confident now!”
  • “This training helped me see the importance of getting past the hesitation of asking the uncomfortable question – asking directly about suicide”